The National Sporting Library & Museum is closed today and tomorrow, December 31 and January 1, for the New Year holiday. We will be open again on January 2. The staff of NSLM would like to wish our friends, family, guests and members a joyous New Year!
A short one today! Izaak Walton (1594 – 1683) is best known for writing the influential The Compleat Angler, a guide to the culture and spirit of fly fishing that grew and expanded over the course of Walton’s life. It’s considered a major classic in the fly fishing world, and NSLM is lucky enough to possess a wonderful collection of early editions of The Compleat Angler in the John H. Daniels Collection.
This book face measures 5 3/4″ tall by 3 3/8″ wide. This size is called duodecimo, the Italian for twelfth, because it’s one twelfth the size of a full folio. This size is often abbreviated 12mo. If you’ve ever seen that abbreviation around, now you know what it means. Use your new-found knowledge to impress your friends and family!
You’re learning all kinds of things today!
Another recent addition to the NSLM trophy collection, which is sure to be a favorite, is the Maryland Hunt Cup trophy, won by Mr. T. B. Blakiston in 1912, on board the horse Conby.
The Maryland Hunt Cup, one of the most challenging steeplechase races in the world, was first run in 1894. The four-mile race with twenty-two fences has been run at Worthington Valley (northwest of Baltimore) since 1922.
I wonder if Mr. Blakiston celebrated his win by taking a big drink of champagne from his new tankard trophy? He certainly would have deserved it! The fences in this timber race are up to 4 ft 10 inches high. Yikes.
This little piece of Hunt Cup ephemera from the NSLM holdings advertises the 1921 race. The fences still look pretty much the same – solid wood, post and rail. The early courses also included deep ditches, creeks and railroad tracks, but those were removed from the course after 1922 (Phew!).
Curator of Permanent Collections
The NSLM manuscripts collection is in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, which houses the Library’s rare books collection as well as the John H. Daniels Collection. One of the manuscripts donated by John and Martha Daniels is a letter from Edith Somerville to Virginia sportsman Harry Worcester Smith in 1924. Somerville was a prominent author of sporting novels with her cousin “Martin Ross” (Violet Martin).
George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian
Today I get to share an item of which we’re very proud at NSLM. This is the original manuscript of “Riding to Hounds on Long Island,” an essay written by Theodore Roosevelt in July 1886 for the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine. I’m always certain to bring this out for viewing when we have visitors on tour at the Library.
In addition to paintings, sculpture, drawings and prints, the NSLM art collections include some wonderful examples of decorative art objects. Some of the most popular pieces are the shiny silver trophies, of all shapes and sizes. Since it’s highly unlikely that I will ever win any trophy as grand as these (though I never give up hope!), I will have to make do with caring for these precious objects here at the museum. But I will do so happily, because they are real treasures – delightful to look at and fun to research and study.
One of our most recent additions is the new National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. This is actually an active trophy which will be awarded every year at the running of the Virginia Fall Races.
The Virginia Fall Races, a steeplechase meet held every October at Glenwood Park in Middleburg, was founded in 1955 by Theodora Randolph (1905 – 1996) and George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. (1894 – 1955). The NSLM Cup (formerly called The Chronicle Cup) is a timber race run in memory of George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. and his son George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. (1927 – 2005), co-founders of the National Sporting Library and former owners of the Chronicle of the Horse.
The Warwick style trophy vase was crafted by the silversmiths Elkington & Company of London, in 1920. The NSLM name and logo engravings were added in 2014 by the generous donor, Juliana May.
“E&Co.” indicates the makers.
I’m looking forward to sharing more about our other trophies soon. (Even if I don’t win them myself!)
Curator of Permanent Collections